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Monday, April 23, 2012

INTERVIEW WITH PASCALE MUSSARD, ART DIRECTOR OF HERMÈS PETIT h PROJECT



If you’ve been a semi-regular visitor of the blog for the last couple of months you probably know about the 27th Hyères International Fashion and Photography Festival to be held in the town of Hyères on the French Riviera this weekend, starting on April 27th. (If you have not seen my previous posts, you can Hyères into the search box just below the header to see them). You might also know that I will be leaving on Wednesday evening to attend the festival, where I plan to shoot shitloads of pics for the blog, in between fashion shows, exhibitions and drinks. So I am officially declaring this week Hyères week on this blog, for the rest of the week I will bring you interviews with the designers, jury members and other interesting people, and once I get to France the pics will follow. So let’s start off Hyères Week with this interview with Pascale Mussard. She is the Director of the Petit h line at Hermès, she is also the great-great-great granddaughter of Thierry Hermès. Along with her cousin Pierre-Alexis Dumas, she was also co-artistic director at Hermès. She is also one of the jury members for Hyères 2012. 
     

•    How should luxury be interpreted within a young creator’s work?
 At Hermes, an object, a creation, must "speak". It is nourished by the soul and hand of craftsman. It is designed, created, pampered, shaped, dreamed, ennobled, sublimated. It is made with respect, love, passion. Young creators work must inscribe beauty in use, and use in beauty. Nothing superfluous, only honesty every step of the way: from design to production.  

As heirs of a noble tradition of craftsmanship, our initiatives must be loyal and the innovative expression of this tradition. 
It must show our optimism and wonderful ingenuity, that last long and leave all horizons open.

•    What would you say is key to sustaining a fashion brand in a world like ours which is ever changing?
 Innovation? 
“L’obligation ardente de toute culture” Hélène Ahrweiller
[the impassioned obligation of any culture]

Integrity : Never  forget our values, from where you come from and invent objects that will last long, be transmitted and bring joy.

Continue to give testament to the relationship between man and the wisdom flowing from acceptance of nature and the unchangeable beauty of usefulness, by reflecting through craftmanship on the meaning of objects and the importance of the ties within mankind.

•    The art at Petit h is so colourful, fun, happy. Do you feel that ‘happy’ is a keyword for our fashion era now? For our Hyeres contest, would you look for ‘happiness’ to be an aspect in choosing the winner?

My oncle Jean Louis Dumas was saying “où que vous soyez , refusez de vous embêter, dans un milieu de qualité , ce serait du gâchis.»
[wherever you may be, refuse to be bored, in a place of quality it would be a waste.]

Petit h : May be not happy as « youthful» Petit h is indeed linked to childhood, particularly in the way to perceive objects and materials, in a new way without preconceptions or prejudice. It is a light, constant, free creation process which makes this petit  “h” the legitimate child of Hermès: though sometimes impertinent, a child that does not cease to grow while learning on the materials, the hands that create, and the values of Hermès. For Hyères, it is a “team” judgment under a very innovative President: Mr Y Yamamoto. 

Happiness is always a positive value for me, but innovation, fantasy and talent are more important.

•    Working for a house as historic and of great heritage as Hermès, how do you encounter the challenge to align new ideas with the skills of traditional craftsmanship?

“During a long time I worked on a one-on-one basis with artists and designers. Then, in 2009, the project truly took off and we started working with a cabinet of accumulated materials and craftsmen who worked closely with the artists (at the time Gilles Joneman, Christian Astuguevielle and Godefroy de Vireu) in the recreation process.  The pieces created were then submitted to the family and the artistic direction, and the project was approved for a first sale which went very well, allowing us to keep growing.”

“An artist, designer, “geotrouvetout” [inventor] is invited by me to come to the atelier and to dive into the cabinet of materials – the materials are the source of inspiration for all creations, They must work with what is available. These materials will spark the creative process and discussion between the craftsmen and designers to find a solution that is concrete, realizable and esthetic according to Hermes values and procedures. The creation at Petit h comes primarily from a dialogue between the hands of the craftsmen, the materials and the ideas of the designer.”

Craftsmen and designers do not necessarily have the same priorities. What is the collaboration like? 

Si vous écoutez vous finissez par entendre. Et un bon entendeur est plus facilement entendu…
[if you listen you will hear. and a good hearer is more easily heard...]

They have to be able to work together well, be able to respond to their partner. I frequently act as a middle person or a kind of midwife. I encourage the team members and say: “We have never done anything like this before, but why don’t we try it out?” If the designer knows exactly what he wants, then the craftsman has to use all his memory, skill and bring out all the techniques that he knows. Currently, we are working on a life-sized bear which is intended for the exhibition in Berlin (23 April - 12 May). The leather is folded using the origami technique – which is something that is for us completely without precedent. The designer Charles Kaisin calls up frequently to find out how we’re getting on. Last week, one of our craftsmen said he thought he would never be able to realize the idea. But eventually everyone in the studio found a method which works. 
An inner connection must be forged between the designer and the craftsman. If this happens then I am prepared to defend their work within the company like a lionness.

•    What is the last thing that you experienced, saw or heard that stimulated you?
Recently  I had the chance , the luck to visit really inspiring places, Naoshima (Japan), Inhotim (Brazil) two sites that offer a unique combination of major contemporary art collection and nature. 
Two wonderful projects:  A DREAM.
Brazil and Japan, two countries very energetic and inspiring for me. 
A great encounter in Brazil: the architect Marcio Kogan ( Sao Paulo)

This summer a beautiful and peaceful trip: Ladakh.

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